The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

Retire early, be passionate, don't worry, die poor

Monday, February 27, 2012

Guru Vitamins, Window Shopping and Achievements

Guru Vitamins, Window Shopping and Achievements

Are you feeling a bit deflated? Read a guru blog. It's magic, fireworks, vitaminic and a start to a new exciting life. If the authors can do it so can you. And, coincidentally, they were even more deflated than you before they took the leap. (I was going to say "leap of faith" but my writing guru told me not to use clichés).

But it won't take long for the fireworks to go dark, the caffeine to lose its grip and the view to fade. Crap! You got all excited but got nowhere, achieved nothing. Damn it!

There are exceptions, of course. Ideals will set some people on fire and unleash a deep inner force. Action and dedication will take them there.

I call this this the "Olympics of Life." A huge audience watching a small number of top athletes. Obviously, the audience also includes many athletes active to some degree or other. The majority, however, just watch.

And if we can't make it happen, where will that leave us? Angry (at ourselves), frustrated and depressed. Not necessarily. My guess is that we'll just keep coming back for more "guru soup" much like wistful window shoppers. I suspect people become addicted to the soup, just as others are addicted to watching porno (I'm basing this opinion on Internet browsing statistics, honest). Either of these two habits will inevitably make us feel as though we're missing out on real life.

So, what am I going to do?

Don't look at me for an answer, look at yourself because you're unique and, I'd wager, nothing like me at all.

Start jogging, kayaking, cycling...write a blog, write a diary...step outside and walk ten kilometers in any direction...join a club, join two...become a volunteer. Do something, do it soon.

And, yes, read blogs that motivate you. But stop hugging your computer wishing things were different.

Get something going, get off your ass, get moving. Try this, try that...but please, stop eating guru soup, put a limit to facebooking, twittering, TV watching...bla, bla, bla.


If it doesn't work out, try something else, and stop moaning. If that's what I tell myself, why wouldn't I tell you the same thing?

Note: If you have a real physical or other disability, although it may limit your options for taking action, you can still do something fulfilling on your own terms. Search for the strength within you and try it.

Why You Need a Life Project?

No matter who you are, what you do, where you live...regardless of your strengths or weaknesses, without a life project sooner or later you'll become listless and bored, or even depressed. I've seen it happen to people over and over again.

Life Project vs. Lifestyle Fixes

So, you became a minimalist, lost weight, fell in love, learned how to communicate more effectively, overcame anxiety attacks...there's no end to what we desire to fix.

Or are you merely reading blogs about changing your life, about finding a more meaningful path and not really getting anywhere? If that's the case, you're not alone. Look around you, look closely and you'll see most people living in a cocoon ranging from total despair to totally faked happiness.

That's not to say that you won't see many genuinely content and happy people. Are they lucky, did they work for it or is it genetic? Knowing the answer isn't going to help you one bit.

You need to work with what you've got, that's what will get you moving, that's what will take you there.

And forget about the latest trend, the promising solution, the smiling face on the cover of the best-selling self-improvement book. None of that is going to change your life, because your life is you.

Some experts claim that persons who read self-help books to overcome phobias, panic attacks, emotional dysfunctions and other afflictions end up reinforcing those very ailments. The more they read, the more they are reminded of their problem, thereby reinforcing their subconscious trigger mechanism. I believe it because it happened to me. The more I read about it, the worse it got. But I won't go into that now.

The variety of self-help books is astounding: Lose Weight, Become Self-Confident, Get Rich, Manage Your Time, Improve Your Marriage and so on, including other naughtier and dubious claims. These books can be helpful, entertaining or good for making compost. You decide

I'm not talking about a tune-up, an adjustment, a boost, a little excitement, some new habits. I'M TALKING ABOUT YOU, THE PERSON THAT LIVES IN YOUR HEAD.

New habits is a way of tinkering, which may or may not improve your life. That depends on you.

Let's take minimalism as an example

You got rid of your clutter, began exercising, became more attentive to your surroundings and now feel energized and alive. You may have gone hardcore and no longer own a TV, car, cell phone, microwave or hair drier. There's so much junk we don't need.

You tasted the thrill of accomplishing a life-changing goal, of joyfully climbing out of the dead-end pit you had fallen into.

That's great, but now, what next?

You spend more time reading, preparing healthy meals, going for long walks, taking more vacations...there's no end to what you can do with a new attitude, spare time and extra cash.

You are now focused on what really clutter to tidy up, no more silly gadgets and frustrating user manuals and the couch is no longer your second home. You have become your own master and it feels empowering and awesome!

You are now a minimalist living more with less. And you're perfectly satisfied and fulfilled. Or, are you?

The routine

Minimalism is your new routine. That's because life is essentially a string of routines sprinkled with surprises, chance occurrences and occasional fireworks, such as falling in love. Most days consist of routines unless you embark on an adventurous voyage, and even that has its routines. Believe me, I've been there.

Perhaps minimalism sounded wonderful in theory but didn't quite work out for you. Does your spartan home feel cold and impersonal, are you tired of reading, are you becoming self-conscious from reminding yourself to breathe deeply, to pause before you act, to slow down and so on? Maybe, just maybe, you miss watching the evening news on TV or a movie now and then. And what if you own a boat (like me) or have a hobby which involves owning heaps of stuff?

Your friends may envy your new lifestyle, and if they don't, tough beans. But being a minimalist can turn into a drama if you don't live alone, if your partner or children don't share your goals or your means of achieving them.

There's another type of minimalism which implies living with less without being religious about it, without transforming it into a package deal. In this case, minimalism is viewed more as an adjective rather than a lifestyle, as in: a minimalist sailor, a minimalist hiker, a minimalist dresser, a minimalist traveller, and so on. Are we condemned to choose between a huge house, an expensive car, a plasma TV....or a tiny house, no car, no TV.... Minimalists who now claim to own less than 100 objects remind me of anorexics!

I have a very simple proposition: adopt a Life Project and forget about "package" lifestyles and self-help books/blogs. In other words, find your own path and then walk it, instead of reading about somebody else's hyped up achievements.

"If that's true, then why am I reading this," you ask? The answer is that "I intend to merely offer ideas and to stimulate your desires." I have no guaranteed plan, no book to sell, nothing to promote...this is about you and I having a conversation. I'm doing the talking but you can leave comments if you like.

What is a Life Project?

A Life Project involves doing something you are passionate about. The emphasis here is on doing, not merely reading about it, daydreaming about it or watching others doing it for you or even imitating gurus.

It doesn't have to be grandiose, but it must be lasting and emotionally rewarding.

Let's take me as an example. I own a sailboat and even though it probably entails more expense and headaches than I'd like to admit, I'm passionate about it. If you read my blog you'll know what I mean. I've crossed an ocean, I've sailed south to the Algarve every year for the last ten years. I also spend a lot of time reading, researching and talking about sailboats.

But it's not all fun and play. I've felt defeated and frustrated by the never-ending maintenance and to-do lists, I've been outraged by ripped sails, a rattling transmission, paint peeling off the mast and by so many hassles that I fear to even list them all....but I love it, simply love owning a sailboat.

Unlike minimalists, tiny house dwellers, travelers and other well-intentioned lifestyle experts, I am not recommending that you rush out and purchase a sailboat or a motorboat. On the contrary, I advise you not to. Why? For the same reason you shouldn't start mountain climbing just because somebody says that it's an amazing experience.

Where to Start

The best place to start is by sitting on a comfortable chair on a slow day free from distractions. Now that you're feeling relaxed, think about "you." Who are you? Are you a man, a woman, young, old, somewhere in between, are you physically fit, do you have a disability, are you adventurous or timid, do you live alone, are you poor, wealthy or somewhere in between....Who are you?

To be continued....

No comments:

Post a Comment